The team will go as far as health and starting pitching will take it.Confident! When a carnival barker like Bowden sounds as down as he does throughout this interview, you know things are bad.
Side note to the interview: one of my innumerable pet peeves is that thing that people do where they ask themselves a question so they can answer it, and Bodes just set a land speed record.
But am I disappointed that we played that poorly this spring? I am. Do I have a concern that good defensive players were playing poorly? Yes. Was I concerned that some of our players didn't get enough at-bats or innings because of the World Baseball Classic? Yes. Was I concerned that a reliever or two didn't perform like they were accustomed to? Yes.Good lord, man, let Ladson ask the questions. He's not going to blindside you -- dude's a softball pitcher.
And Ladson pulls double duty, stepping to the plate to answer your questions. To sum up: they've given up on LeCroy catching, and Fick will probably be the back-up when he returns. Brendan Harris has good attitude, good bat, bad glove. Royce Clayton isn't a leadoff hitter. Some other stuff I don't care about. The first question gets the most interesting response.
It seems to me that the Nationals no longer want Ryan Church around, ever since he suffered the toe injury last year. Why don't the Nationals just trade him?
-- Vince, A, Denver
I think the Nationals want Church to be part of the organization. In fact, Church's No. 1 fan is general manager Jim Bowden.
I'm almost positive that I, for one, am a bigger fan of Ryan Church than Bowden is. I for instance, wouldn't have sent him to AAA based on 50 Spring Training at-bats. But if Bodes actually does like Church, there's another thing he and Frank are probably fighting about.
However, many in the organization have heard enough of Church's excuses, especially when it comes to his body.
For example, Church said he was rundown during Spring Training. People in the organization were stunned when they found out about that particular statement. The organization is hoping that Church will get mentally tougher in the Minor Leagues.
I'm actually not as eager to comment on this as you might think. Everyone calling Church a wuss is closer to the man than I am. But so is the Post's Dave Sheinin, who wrote this back in March:
The fact is, the crash into the wall in Pittsburgh left Church unable to get out of bed or even turn on the shower without assistance. If anything, he came back too soon, causing more problems later on. As for the pinkie toe -- suffice it to say that a broken pinkie toe earns someone no sympathy. But Church said he could not even put on a shoe, let alone play baseball.You can't expect Church to say something like, "Yeah, I'm a total pantywaist. My mind's just not in the game, you know?" But Sheinin offers at least the possibility that when Church says he's too hurt to play he actually is.And so what? What if Church is the slackingest, most apathetic milquetoast in the history of baseball? Maybe it means you don't commit to him after his arbitration years. Maybe you don't pencil him for 160 games, and maybe you don't hang out with him after work. But the guys running this team need to treat it like a professional sports team rather than a frat during rush. Church is a resource this team can't afford to waste. His lack of "mental toughness" didn't stop him from putting up on 819 OPS last year or winning Rookie of the Month in May. The fact that a bunch of tough jock bullcrap from Robinson or Schneider or whomever is keeping our best centerfielder from playing centerfield is as perfect an indictment of how this team is run as you can find.